The vast majority of Australia's population will face above-normal bushfire risks this year and homeowners must be prepared, according to the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre's (CRC).

The CRC's latest seasonal outlook has predicted elevated fire risk for the bulk of eastern and South Australian coasts, with Australia's warmest and ninth driest winter on record contributing to a summer bushfire risk. In addition, predictions of warmer weather in the south-east suggest bushfires might arrive earlier and be more active.

Often arising without warning, bushfires can have serious consequences for uninsured owners. Research shows that 29% of homeowners and 67% of renters don't have home and contents insurance and as many as 40% of households with insurance are still underinsured¹.

Make sure your Home Building and Contents and Business insurance is up-to-date and that it provides enough cover to replace what may be lost. Consider if high-cost new purchases, improvements or business interruption are factored into the policy. If not, you could be out of pocket. Adequate insurance will at least provide peace of mind knowing your home and contents or business loss can be replaced without financial loss.

Be prepared

Bushfires don't discriminate. Embers can travel great distances, across several properties and streets, even up to 30km in the worst conditions. Regardless of where people live, everyone should know what to do in the event of a fire to help minimise the threat to them, their homes and their loved ones. For more information on how to create a bushfire survival plan visit 'My Fire Plan' at Rural Fire Service website.

A well prepared home is more likely to survive a bushfire too. Here are some basic maintenance tips to prepare your property²:

  • Clean your gutters of leaves and twigs;
  • Install metal gutter guards;
  • Repair damaged or missing tiles on the roof
  • Install fine metal mesh screens on windows and doors;
  • Fit seals around doors and windows to eliminate gaps;
  • Enclose the areas under the house;
  • Repair or cover gaps in external walls;
  • Attach a fire sprinkler system to gutters;
  • Keep lawns short and gardens well maintained;
  • Cut back trees and shrubs overhanging buildings;
  • Clean up fallen leaves, twigs and debris around the property;
  • Have hoses long enough to reach around your house;
  • If you have a pool, tank or dam, put a Static Water Supply (SWS) sign on your property entrance, so firefighters know where they can get water; and
  • Check and maintain adequate levels of home and contents insurance. Ensure it is up-to-date.

¹ Ryan TJ, 2016, Canstar, Underinsurance Becoming More Common in Aussie Households, https://www.canstar.com.au/home-insurance/are-you-under-insured/

² NSW Rural Fire Service, 2017, Prepare your home, https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/plan-and-prepare/prepare-your-property

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